Parish Church of St Bartholomew the Apostle, Unisław
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Parish Church of St Bartholomew the Apostle

Unisław

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One of the few examples of a transformation of a Gothic parish church into a Gothic Revival building conducted in a manner which ensured the preservation of the stone structure of its walls. Today, the church, with its slender tower, remains the dominant feature of the surrounding landscape, rising above the Vistula river valley.

History

The first mentions of the village date back to 1222, when the entire area was allocated to a bishop named Chrystian. Towards the end of the 13th century, a Teutonic Order commandry was located here, while somewhere around the year 1384, the village was incorporated into the Starogród commandry.

The parish church of St Bartholomew was erected towards the end of the 13th century. The first mentions thereof in written sources date back to 1445. Following the reconstruction of the church necessitated by the damage sustained during the wars with Sweden, the church was consecrated once again in 1728. Between 1517 and 1772, the building remained the property of the cathedral chapter in Chełmża.

In the mid-18th century or in 1785, the gable rising above the chancel was restored, with subsequent renovation works taking place in 1841. In years 1903-1904, the church was extended westwards and redesigned in the Gothic Revival style; in addition, the entire church was also reoriented during that period. Following the demolition of the tower, the main body was extended towards the west, with the chancel being moved to the newly erected section. Later on, a new tower was added, while the former chancel was converted into a vestibule incorporating the main entrance and the organ gallery. Today, the floor plan of the church resembled that of the Latin cross. During the first half of the 1950s, the restoration of the main altarpiece was conducted, with the renovation of the entire interior following in the years 1957-1958. In the 1980s, the roof tiles were replaced, with metal grillwork installed in the existing window openings. In 1989, the chancel underwent a comprehensive restoration. Further comprehensive restoration works, encompassing the façades of the structure, were also performed in 2010 and 2014. The churchyard, which had once performed the function of the church cemetery, is surrounded by a perimeter wall from the north, south and east. The churchyard lies in the shade of old trees, with an additional line of trees positioned alongside the perimeter wall. The times when the yard surrounding the church served as a cemetery are long gone. The church itself is located in the western part of Unisław.

Description

The single-nave church, originally conceived as a Gothic building, retains many features of this style, combined with the Gothic Revival features added in the course of the redesign which took place in the 20th century. Originally, the church was oriented towards the east; in 1904, however, it was reoriented, with the main entrance now positioned on the eastern side. It was built on an irregular floor plan, its shape roughly similar to that of a Latin cross. The nave was designed on a rectangular floor plan, with the eastern section, i.e. the former chancel, being slightly narrower than the main body and incorporating an entrance vestibule flanked by two side chambers. Both the transept wings and the chancel, positioned on the western side of the church, are rectangular in shape. The southern wall of the chancel is adjoined by a sacristy. A three-storey tower with a tall hip roof surmounted by a hexagonal lantern adjoins the northern wall of the nave, standing alongside the crossing of the nave and transept. The main body of the church is covered with a gable roof clad with S-shaped roof tiles.

The eastern (front) façade features an axially positioned main entrance set into a deep, archivolt portal made of brick. The façade, bearing the marks of subsequent alteration works in the form of sections made of granite blocks which are clearly different from the original walls, is crowned with a brick gable adorned with six pointed-arch blind windows, four of which incorporate small, segment-headed window openings. The triangular gable is partitioned with brick lesenes topped with pinnacles capped with pyramid-shaped rooflets surmounted by fleurons. The southern and northern façades of the transept feature three pointed-arch windows and four double blind windows, their surface covered with plaster. An oculus adorned with tracery is positioned directly above the entire arrangement. The triangular gable is topped with pinnacles designed in a manner similar to those of the front façade. A sacristy with an entrance door is positioned on the western side. The design of the western façade of the church is reminiscent to that of its eastern counterpart.

A wooden vaulted ceiling of the barrel type rises above the nave and the narrower front section, incorporating a wooden organ gallery and pipe organ casing.

The chancel features a diamond vault, while the transept is covered with a flat, wooden ceiling. The most notable items of the interior fixtures and fittings are the main altarpiece and two side altarpieces incorporating Baroque and Rococo elements, dating back to the 18th century. The oldest surviving item, however, is the granite baptismal font, dating back to the 13th century. Three bells are suspended inside the bell tower. The oldest of them dates back to 1684, while the two others were added in 1927.

The churchyard - the former cemetery - is surrounded by a stone wall from the north, the east and the south. The wall is capped with a pointed rooflet made of brick.

The monument is open to visitors.

compiled by Krzysztof Bartowski, Historical Monument and National Heritage Documentation and Popularisation Department of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Cultural Centre in Bydgoszcz, 8-18. - 20-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Arszyński M, Rejmanowski M., Zabytki architektury i budownictwa w Polsce, issue 2: Województwo bydgoskie, Warsaw 1972,
  • Zabytki architektury województwa bydgoskiego, collective work, Bydgoszcz 1974,
  • Chrzanowski T., Kornecki M., Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce. vol. 11, Dawne województwo bydgoskie. issue 4, Dawny powiat chełmiński. Warsaw 1976

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: kon. XIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Chełmińska 57, Unisław
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district chełmiński, commune Unisław
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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